Who Were the Greeks?

BBC2 (2 x 60 mins)

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Who Were The Greeks? is a two-part historical series written and presented by classicist Dr Michael Scott.

Two and a half thousand years ago, before the first books of the Old Testament had even been set down, European civilisation had begun in Athens. The people who built this city were a civilisation that left a blueprint for all European culture to follow.

When we think of the ancient Greeks, we think of the great legacies they have given us - democracy, architecture, art, philosophy, literature. But scratch the surface of that culture and you find what can seem a seething tornado of unsettling and downright outrageous customs and beliefs. They are a culture to whom we owe a lot, but about whom we are often in the dark - leaving us with the question: just who were the Greeks? And just who are we to claim their legacy as our own?

In this series, Dr Michael Scott will travel across the ancient Greek world, from ancient Olympia to Athens and Macedon, Turkey and Sicily, uncovering the critical people, objects and ideas of ancient Greek culture, trying out ancient Greek wrestling and tasting the famous Spartan blood broth, to discover not only what the Greeks were really like, but also why the ancient Greeks were so successful. Why their culture and way of life spread across continents and through time. And why they still have such a powerful hold over our imaginations today.

In episode 1, classicist, Dr Michael Scott, uncovers the strange, alien world of the ancient Greeks. Looking at the lives of the Greeks, Michael asks who were these people who gave us democracy, architecture, philosophy, language, literature and sport? Travelling across Greece today, Michael takes us to ancient cities and battlefields, to great ruins and across wild countryside, and introduces us to the objects, people and ideas that defined ancient Greek culture, all in his search to uncover how the ancient Greeks thought and lived. What he uncovers is that ancient Greece was, alongside the more familiar elements of democracy, sport and philosophy, a seething tornado of what seems to us strange, unsettling and downright outrageous customs and beliefs. A place we would never want to be, but a place we would never want to be without.

In episode 2, classicist, Dr Michael Scott, explores the legacies of the Ancient Greeks, what they have given us today, and asks why these legacies have lasted through time? Democracy, art, architecture, philosophy, science, sport, theatre - all can be traced back to ancient Greece. Travelling across the ancient Greek world, from ancient Olympia to Athens and Macedon, as well as Turkey and Sicily, Michael not only discovers the ways in which those legacies were created, but also how vastly different and alien they are to the way we celebrate them today. And by using the latest archaeological, literary and scientific analysis, Michael uncovers the incredible story of how the legacies of ancient Greece have spread, been mis-interpreted and been interwoven into the DNA of human society, to the extent that we are all implicated in answering the question: who were the Greeks?